Is it possible to divorce ET?
The word ‘relationship’ is a funny thing; it truly covers all manner of sins. UFO discourse has its fair share of relationships, but none is more debated than studying unidentified aerial phenomena for the sake of science, and the hypothesis that these phenomena are controlled by some sort of intelligence.
Many researchers and investigators are generally skeptical about UAP being intelligently controlled by an exosentient* being. To paraphrase Carl Sagan, “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” The general overarching ideologies present among this crowd are: a) exosentient beings are not interacting with humanity, and b) if they are, no evidence is strong enough to prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt, therefore it doesn’t matter anyway. Here, it often, but not always, boils down to a large “I don’t know” with a heavy lean towards a “Probably not…” which seems pretty sensible, given the lack of objective proof.
*Exosentience would refer to any being with agency, and the ability to gain knowledge, that is not currently known or knowable in our given natural world or perception of reality. This would include all manner of beings from different physical locations within our cosmos, to non-physical mystic beings from various consciousness states, dimensions, etc. Basically, take all current theories, hypotheses and beliefs in an intelligent Other and lump them into ‘exosentience’. This idea is currently a purely philosophical one.
On the other side, many researchers and investigators have a fundamental belief in an exosentient hypothesis which can range from physical to mystical. This spectrum of belief was covered in a previous post, so I will not go into details here. The belief in the being(s) is the important point here.
What occurs within the UFO discourse is an ideological ‘tug-of-war’ between these two philosophies. The question which is invariably raised; can UAP/UFO studies, otherwise known as Ufology, continue without a presupposition of exosentience? In other words, can Ufology ideologically divorce ET?
Clearly, a UFO researcher can investigate the UFO question, and approach the sightings, events, or historical cases without a predefined belief in a ‘visiting’ exosentience. Many current members of the discourse do so without issue. Many are skeptical, and regularly engage in debunking sightings, and seeking out more prosaic explanations to various Ufological phenomena. However, UFO discourse, like any field, while made up of people with varying opinions, ideas, hypotheses, and theories, does form and is formed by ideological mechanisms. The most contentious is that Ufology and exosentience are connected; they are ideologically fused.
This is ultimately evidenced by the fact that the general public’s opinion of Ufology and UFO discourse often entails ‘aliens’. While modern Ufology may blame this upon history, and the work of its predecessors, the ideological reality is well established. The work of John E. Mack and Jacques Vallée, among others, goes far to establish some sort of intelligence, be it physical or mystical, interacts with and even manipulates humanity. There is little wonder why general opinion links the UFO with otherworldly forces.
Is separation possible? While it takes significant time for public opinion to change, can Ufology begin constructing ‘a new self’ in which studying UAP and hypothesizing exosentience are divided? Can a UFO researcher study the phenomenon without the discourses’ ideological baggage of exosentient intelligence?
Common sense dictates that the vast majority of UFO and close encounter events are prosaic, and while a small amount of cases are strange and potentially unknown, they are simply unknowable due to limited data or information. The ‘true unknowns’ that have potential otherworldly intelligence behind them are truly small indeed, if present at all. This is where our answer lies. Not in the cases of alleged or potential intelligent Others piloting UFOs, or making contact, rather, in the ideological need for a small handful of events to be understood as ‘true unknowns’. Ufology itself hinges upon the need for ‘true unknowns’ more than real events and sightings generated by an exosentience. To put it simply, Ufology requires the ideological construction of events concerning unknown phenomena that cannot be explained, more than the actual phenomena themselves. Without the perception that there exists a handful of ‘true unknown’ cases, so spooky and mysterious that they defy the laws of the natural world, there is no Ufology.
UFO discourse, so called Ufology, becomes nothing if one removes the potential of exosentient beings. One cannot remove the ideological baggage of exosentient hypotheses from Ufology because that baggage is Ufology.
If UFO investigators and researchers investigate UAP/UFOs without the attached presupposition of the potential for an intelligent Other, what are they? They become amateur meteorologists, or aeronautical enthusiasts. Those Ufologists who state that all UFOs are prosaic are not Ufologists, but something else. The line blurs where skeptical UFO researchers say, “it’s probably not aliens, but you never know…” This is a case in point for the claim that Ufology relies on its presupposition for exosentience. It isn’t that it has to be aliens, rather that the potential for aliens is there. There must always be a taste of the mysterious, a fundamental understanding that while it probably isn’t an intelligent Other, the possibility exists that it just might be.
Ufology is partially, albeit problematically, formed by the believers who outright ‘know’ that interdimensional beings are visiting our reality, or that the Zetans have established underground bases. Ufology does not concern itself with the outright hardline skeptics who posit that there has never been, nor are ‘true unknown’ UFO events; these skeptics simply aren’t part of the Ufological construct. The most vital and essential place where Ufology thrives is in the “I don’t know.” The members of the UFO discourse who enter the debate from the reasonable middle ground are what creates and fuels Ufology. It does not matter if there is an intelligence beyond ours, what matters is that Ufologists have enough room in their ideological reality to give those intelligences a foothold on which to stand. It is not that they desire exosentient visitation to be true, rather, they desire the desire for exosentient visitation to be true.
Jaques Lacan, French psychoanalyst and philosopher, suggests that our motivation to act comes from desire; not for things, truth, or gain- but for desire itself. He wrote,
“...the structure proper to a desire that thus proves to model it at an unexpected depth – namely, the desire to have his desire recognised. This desire, in which it is literally verified that man’s desire is alienated in the other’s desire, in effect structures the drives discovered in analysis, in accordance with all the vicissitudes of the logical substitutions in their source, aim, and object…” (Ecrits, 343)
“The necessary and sufficient reason for the repetitive insistence of these desires in the transference and their permanent remembrance in a signifier that repression has appropriated – that is, in which the repressed returns – is found if one accepts the idea that in these determinations the desire for recognition dominates the desire that is to be recognised, preserving it as such until it is recognised” (Ecrits, 431).
While Lacan was obviously not directly referencing the UFO debate in this text, we can take away that Ufologists, and Ufology itself, will forever desire the quest for exosentience. Furthermore, it is the constant repression by broader mainstream culture that provides Ufology and Ufologists with the desire to continue their taboo work. Finally, Ufology not only desires the exploration of the UFO question, but they desire the inherent, often unconscious or subconscious, desire of the broader culture that too seeks an answer to UFOs. The intelligent Other, alien beings, whatever we call that which is allegedly responsible for the UFO phenomenon, is the signifier in this case, that which gives meaning to the Ufological field. Ufology expresses itself via the signifier; it becomes ‘something’ as a result of the alleged exosentient beings which pepper the stories that create it. Lacan’s interpretation of desire would posit that Ufologists are not totally focused on answering the UFO question, but rather that people continue to want answers to it, thereby giving the Ufologist recognition.
What we can take away here is that Ufology is not formed by exosentient hypotheses, but the desire for those hypotheses to be continuously desired by others. It is not enough to say that certain Ufologists want people in general to believe, because that is not really the case. Rather, Ufologists need people’s desires for the mysterious exosentient beings to be desired themselves.
It is this little hint, this little “objet petite a” (to borrow another term from Lacan), which drives Ufology. Whether there is a real exosentience out there interfering with humanity is totally irrelevant; what matters is that there is a desire for one, and that desire is what drives Ufology forward, gives it life, and why Ufology will never be able to separate itself from belief in exosentience as an ideology. Ufology cannot divorce ET, because without it, Ufology is nothing.
Ufology is not really about answering the UFO question, nor solving the riddle once and for all. It is more about maintaining the illusions created by the desires inherent in Ufology itself. Furthermore, desire is not true or factual, it is an illusion. As Lacan tells us, we must remember that it is not the something we desire, but we desire ‘desire’ itself. Ufology demands that exosentience be an aspect of the field, because without it, Ufology becomes something mundane and banal; it fades away into other fields of study. UFO discourse, and Ufology itself, is fundamentally an illusion of desires. One cannot separate the ‘scientific’ UAP/UFO from exosentient hypotheses because there is essentially nothing there to separate. When members of the UFO discourse call for a separation between the scientific aspects of UFO studies, and the possible existence of aliens; they simply ask the impossible.